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Streaking Wild, skidding Coyotes meeting tonight

by Dan Myers

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Two teams going in very different directions in the Western Conference standings will meet tonight at Xcel Energy Center when the Minnesota Wild face the Phoenix Coyotes.

The Wild, playing some of their best hockey under second-year coach Mike Yeo, have won a franchise-best six straight games.

The Coyotes kick off a three-game road trip having lost six games in a row. Phoenix, which sat in sixth place in the West on March 14, one point out of fourth, has tumbled seven spots as a result of the skid and now sits four points back of the San Jose Sharks for the eighth and final spot in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Indeed, things have reached a desperate stage for the Coyotes as the team heads into the stretch run of the regular season.

"We're at that point," Coyotes coach Dave Tippett said. "This is a big road trip for us. We've put ourselves in a tough position, just not finding ways to win games. The urgency to get things done has to be front and center now, we've put ourselves behind the 8-ball."

Playing at the hottest team in the conference might be daunting for some, especially for a team struggling like Phoenix has over the past two weeks.

But St. Paul has provided the Coyotes with some measure of luck over the years; Phoenix has gone 5-0-1 in this building in its past six and clinched its first Pacific Division championship here last spring.

"You'd hope that there's something," Coyotes captain Shane Doan said. "It's cliché, but we need to just find a way to win a game right now. We have to play better and we have to do the little things."

Here are the projected lineups for Wednesday's game between the Phoenix Coyotes and Minnesota Wild at Xcel Energy Center:


Lauri Korpikoski - Martin Hanzal - Radim Vrbata

Mikkel Boedker - Antoine Vermette - Shane Doan

Steve Sullivan - Boyd Gordon - David Moss

Raffi Torres - Kyle Chipchura - Rob Klinkhammer

Keith Yandle - Derek Morris

Oliver Ekman-Larsson - David Schlemko

Rostislav Klesla - Michael Stone

Jason LaBarbera

Chad Johnson

Scratched: Paul Bissonnette, Matthew Lombardi

Injured: Mike Smith (upper body), Zbynek Michalek (foot)


Zach Parise - Mikko Koivu - Charlie Coyle

Pierre-Marc Bouchard - Matt Cullen - Devin Setoguchi

Dany Heatley - Kyle Brodziak - Cal Clutterbuck

Mike Rupp - Zenon Konopka - Torrey Mitchell

Ryan Suter - Jonas Brodin

Clayton Stoner - Jared Spurgeon

Justin Falk - Tom Gilbert

Niklas Backstrom

Darcy Kuemper

Scratched: Nate Prosser, Brett Clark, Jake Dowell

Injured: Josh Harding (illness)

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